Environmental Monitoring

The CEQ regulations (1987) enunciate the principle of post-EIS environmental monitoring in sections 1505.3 and 1505.2(c). The CEQ regulations focus on monitoring in conjunction with implementing mitigation measures. Monitoring can also be used to determine the effectiveness of each of the types of mitigation measures.

Sadler and Davies (1988) delineate three types of environmental monitoring associated with the life cycle of a project, plan, or program; these include baseline monitoring, effects or impact monitoring, and compliance monitoring. Baseline monitoring refers to the measurement of environmental variables during a representative prepro-ject period to determine existing conditions, ranges of variation, and processes of change. Effects or impact monitoring involves the measurement of environmental variables during project construction and operation to determine changes which may have resulted from the project. Finally, compliance monitoring is periodic sampling or continuous measurement of levels of waste discharge, noise, or similar emissions, to ensure that conditions are observed and standards are met. Pre-EIS monitoring includes baseline monitoring, while post-EIS monitoring encompasses effects or impact monitoring, and compliance monitoring.

Numerous purposes and implied benefits can be delineated for pre- and post-EIS environmental monitoring. For example, Marcus (1979) identifies the following six general purposes or uses of information from post-EIS monitoring:

1. Provides information for documentation of the impacts that result from a proposed federal action, with this information enabling more accurate prediction of impacts associated with similar federal actions.

2. Warns agencies of unanticipated adverse impacts or sudden changes in impact trends

3. Provides an immediate warning whenever a preselected impact indicator approaches a pre-selected critical level.

4. Provides information for agencies to control the timing, location, and level of impacts of a project. Control measures involve preliminary planning as well as the possible implementation of regulation and enforcement measures.

5. Provides information for evaluating the effectiveness of implemented mitigation measures.

6. Provides information to verify predicted impacts and thus validate impact prediction techniques. Based on these findings, techniques, such as mathematical models, can be modified or adjusted.

Environmental monitoring can serve as a basic component of a periodic environmental regulatory auditing program for a project (Allison 1988). In this context, auditing can be defined as a systematic, documented, periodic, and objective review by regulated entities of facility operations and practices related to environmental requirements (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 1986). The purposes of environmental auditing are to verify compliance with environmental requirements, evaluate the effectiveness of in-place, environmental management systems, and assess risks from regulated and unregulated substances and practices. Some direct results of an auditing program include an increased environmental awareness by project employees, early detection and correction of problems and thus avoidance of environmental agency enforcement actions, and improved management control of environmental programs (Allison 1988). Several references are available describing protocols and experiences in auditing related to the EIA process (Canter 1985a; Munro, Bryant, and Matte-Baker 1986; PADC Environmental Impact Assessment and Planning Unit 1982; Sadler 1987; United Nations Environment Program, 1990).

Careful planning and implementation of an environmental monitoring program is necessary to meet the stated purposes of monitoring. Three premises relative to monitoring programs in the United States are:

1. An abundance of environmental monitoring data is routinely collected by various governmental agencies and the private sector. These data typically need to be identified, aggregated, and interpreted.

2. Environmental monitoring programs are expensive to plan and implement; therefore, every effort should be made to use extant monitoring programs or modify extant programs.

3. Due to overlapping environmental management and monitoring responsibilities of many local, state, and federal government agencies, environmental monitoring planning must be coordinated with several agencies.

Several fundamental books and articles are useful in the detailed planning and implementation of a monitoring program. References are available for air-quality monitoring (Noll and Miller 1977 and Lodge 1989), surface water quality monitoring (Canter 1985b and Loftis et al. 1989), groundwater quality monitoring (Aller et al. 1989), noise monitoring (Lipscomb and Taylor 1978), species and habitat monitoring (Brown and Dycus 1986; Gray 1988; Horner, Richey, and Thomas 1986; Ontario Ministry of the Environment 1989; Roberts and Roberts 1984; and Spellerberg 1991), social impact assessment monitoring (Krawetz, MacDonald, and Nichols 1987), and health effects monitoring (Burtan 1991 and Schweitzer 1981). General references which encompass several types of environmental monitoring (Cheremisinoff and Manganiello 1990, Gilbert 1987, and Keith 1991) are also available.

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